Why Pothos Plants Need Drainage | 5 Problems and Solutions

Pothos need good drainage to keep growing fast, to avoid root rot and avoid the leaves turning yellow and brown. To make sure that pothos pot drain well, choose a pot with at least 5 drainage holes, water over the sink to allow it to drain and use good quality potting soil high in organic matter.

This article will explore the top 5 problems caused by poor drainage and 6 ways to make sure that your pothos plant drain well.

Pothos plants that come in pots without drainage can suffer from problem due to overwatering. Here are the 5 most common problems caused by a lack of drainage.

1. Root rot

Root rot on pothos is a fungal growth that occurs on the root when the soil remains too wet. This fungus can damage the roots causing them to turn brown or black. The roots will die back and no longer be able to absorb the water and nutrients the plant needs.

In the long term the plant can wilt and eventually die. As it no longer can get the nutrients it needs it will slowly die off as the problem gets worse. To save a pothos suffering from root rot repot it into a new pot with fresh potting soil. Make sure the pot has at least 5 drainage holes to allow the water to drain through.  

2. Slow growth

Pothos plants without adequate drainage will often show signs of damage by slowing their growth. If their roots are suffering from rot the plant growth will slow. Soil that has become too wet will lack the air the roots need to grow well, stunting their growth and causing plant damage.

3. Wilting

Another sign that a pothos plant has poor drainage is when the leaves wilt. If the leaves start to droop over and the soil is still very moist, then overwatering could be the cause. If water is trapped in the pot and can’t drain away, the soil will stay wet and the plant will suffer.

To quickly dry out an overwatered plant, you can add drainage holes to the plastic pot. Wrap the pot in an old towel and allow it to sit for a few hours. The towel will absorb the excess water and help the soil to dry out.

For more on saving an overwatered plant using this method, check out my previous article here: How to dry out overwatered indoor plants | 5 Easy Ways

4. Yellow and brown leaves

Yellow and brown leaves is a sign that the pothos plant does not have good drainage. Yellowing and browning of the leaves can indicate root rot, or a lack of air in the soil. If the soil is wet and remains wet on the surface for days at a time then the plant is not draining well.

Repotting is usually the best methos to save the plant once the leaves have suffered this type of damage. Use a fresh pot and good quality potting soil to help the plant to recover.

5. Dripping leaves (Guttation)

Another sign that pothos have poor drainage or are getting too much water is guttation. If the leaves are dripping excessively then this is a sign that the pot is not draining well. Pothos plants will drip a water-like substance from their leaf tips to remove excess water and minerals. This will be a mix of water and sap that can leave marks on your furniture.

Increasing the number of drainage holes in your pot and reducing your watering schedule will help to reduce this problem. While guttation is a natural process, excess water dripping is a sign the plant is getting too much water.

Guttation is a natural process but can be an indication the pot is not draining well and the plant is getting too much water.

How to increase drainage for pothos plants

There are some easy ways to make sure your pothos plant has good drainage. Here are my top 6 tips to ensure your pothos drains well and will not become overwatered.

1. Choose a pot with 5 drainage holes

Choose a plastic pot that has around 5 drainage holes around the base of the plant. I like to plant my pothos in regular plastic garden pots that I get from plants I have purchased from nurseries. Wash and disinfect the pot before planting your new pothos into it.

You can then place this pot inside an indoor pot without drainage holes. When you are ready to water, you can remove the plastic pot and water it using the sink method below.  

2. Use the sink watering method

The best way to make sure the pothos plant drains well is to water it in your sink or outdoors. Take the plastic inner pot out and water it in your sink or outdoors. This will allow excess water to drain out the bottom and will avoid the roots sitting in water for too long and rotting.

TIP: Always wash your sink out thoroughly after watering your plants.

3. Empty drainage tray

Always empty the catch tray or outer pot of any excess water. Avoid leaving pothos to sit in water throughout the day as this can cause the soil to become too wet causing the leaves to wilt, yellow and the roots to grow fungus.

Always empty the drainage tray if there is still water sitting in it 30 minutes after watering your plant. If you allow pothos to drain well in your sink there shouldn’t be excess water draining into the drip tray.

4. Avoid overwatering by checking the soil

Check the soil with your finger 1-2 inches down from the surface to see if it is moist before adding more water. If the soil is moist your plant can go for a few more days before watering again. Water the plant once the soil has dried out in these top 2 inches.

5. Add drainage holes to the side of pots

Another tip if your pot does not come with 5 drainage holes on the bottom is to add some extra drainage holes in the side. A drill can make small holes in the side to increase drainage. Make these holes 2-3 inches from the bottom of the plant. This will increase airflow and drainage.

6. Use good quality potting soil

Another key tip to make sure your pothos plant drains well is to use good quality potting soil. Use a premium, all-purpose potting soil as it will contain lots of organic matter to allow the water to drain out well. Premium potting soils usually contain a slow release fertilizer that will feed your plant for 3-6 months.

Why Pothos Plants Need Drainage | Summary

Pothos plant are a tropical vine that grows fantastically well as an indoor plant. For the best growth and to avoid root rot, make sure the pot you plant it in has around 5 drainage holes. You can add extras yourself if your pot does not have enough.

Choose a good quality potting soil so that excess water can drain out and avoid letting pothos sit for hours in a pot tray with water.

Happy growing.